SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “The Kissing Booth 3,” out now on Netflix.
For “Kissing Booth 3” star Joey King, it was imperative that the last installment end the effervescent Elle Evans’ story in a way that was “just right.” Luckily, as an executive producer on the Netflix rom-com, King got her say.
“Finding the right way to do the send-off and figuring out what was best for the final edit was probably the heaviest area that I was involved in,” King tells Variety of her EP duties. “That was very exciting for me, because I just want to make sure that for me, for all the filmmakers and for all the fans, that our send-off was just right. I really hope they feel that way.”
But, that doesn’t mean that the conclusion is predictable. In fact, the finals scenes of “Kissing Booth 3” play out in a way that’s far less certain than your stereotypical fairytale.
After spending all summer avoiding making a decision about college — should she go to UC Berkeley with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) as they’ve always planned, or follow her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi) to Harvard? — Elle decides to bet on herself instead. After a pivotal conversation with Lee and Noah’s mother (Molly Ringwald), Elle realizes that while trying to make those she loves happy, she has lost herself. So, she discovers her true passion and applies to USC’s video game design program for the spring semester.
“I think it’s so nice that Elle gets to be her own person and make those decisions that are best for her, which is really hard to do,” King says of Elle’s final selection.
But of course, that’s not all — the film then flashes forward to six years in the future, when Elle (sporting a short new ‘do) and Noah run into each other at their high school fair, where the Kissing Booth is still in action. Elle is with Lee and his girlfriend Rachel (Meganne Young), who have all remained close throughout college. After a brief yet flirtatious interaction — in which we learn that Elle has designed her own video game and Noah is fielding offers from law firms in New York and L.A. — Elle and Noah part ways with a vague intention of someday going on a motorcycle ride together. But as Noah ascends the stairs, he looks back and smiles, as if communicating an unsaid promise. The final scene shows the pair going on that motorcycle ride, but this time on separate bikes. The look the old flames exchange seems to say it all, but there’s no confirmation that they live happily ever after.
“I’m so happy with the way we wrapped this trilogy up, because not only do we give the fans what they’re hoping for, in a way we also don’t,” King says. “I’m excited for people to paint their own picture.”
Because the movie ends in an “unexpected way,” King explains, “It’s so up for interpretation. But, I mean, the last frame of the two of them, I know what I can guess based on that. And I hope that the fans have a really good time guessing.”
The end of the “Kissing Booth” franchise also marks a new phase in the Emmy-nominated actor’s career. Acting professionally since she was four, King first assumed executive producer duties with 2020’s “Kissing Booth 2,” bringing a unique perspective to the films as a young adult.
“I’ve been with these movies since I was 17 years old. I’m the target audience and I love these movies just as much as all the fans,” King says.
“I’ve always had ideas and thoughts, so being able to collaborate even more with [director] Vince [Marcello] was so exciting,” she continues. “Being able to have a say — not only on set but in the edit of the movie afterwards and what the final product gets to be — was just a joy for me.”
King is also taking on producer roles in several of her upcoming projects, including films “Camp,” “The In Between” and “The Princess,” as well as the TV mini-series “A Spark of Light.” In July, King inked a first-look production deal with Netflix under her All the King’s Horses production banner, making her one of the youngest creatives in partnership with the streamer.
And as she continues to build her producing resume, King considers other women actor-producers like Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron — with whom she’s in development with on a secretive new project — to be role models.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, which I’m so lucky for, and I’ve experienced the ups and downs of being a lady in this industry and also being a young woman, which of course has its challenges,” King says. “People sometimes just assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re young, and that’s always hard. But I have to say that I really look up to the women who paved the way before me, being producing actresses, because it makes me feel inspired and confident heading into this next chapter of my career.”
King is set to start her next chapter with a bang, starring alongside Brad Pitt, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Lady Gaga, Sandra Bullock and more in Sony Pictures’ “Bullet Train.” Production wrapped in March, and King is itching for the film to come out in April 2022.
“Filming ‘Bullet Train’ was honestly so incredible and just beyond my wildest dreams of what an experience could be like,” King says. “I can’t get over how cool it was.”
But, for now, King is taking in the release of “Kissing Booth 3” with “a mixture of emotions.”
“I’m so excited for everyone to see the final installment, but there’s, of course, a bittersweetness to it,” King says. “I’m emotional and I’m a little bit sad that it’s the last chapter. But more importantly, I’m so happy that I have the memories of how incredible it was to film these movies and see the global reaction to them. So, I’m really holding onto that.”